January 1,1967 through to December 31,1967
History of the 227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
1 January 1967 - 31 December 1967
Major Darwin A. Peterson
Captain Alex Woods Jr.
Lt. Colonel W.F. Dixon
1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)
APO San Francisco 96490
NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN
The base camp of the 227th Aviation Battalion remained at Camp Redcliff, An Khe, Republic of Vietnam, throughout the year. Improvements of living areas, maintenance of facilities, and aircraft parking areas progressed slowly during the first months due to the battalion's heavy operational commitments in the field. During the second quarter, new emphasis was placed on completing 65% of the buildings planned for each unit. At the end of June, permanent type buildings in the battalion area were nearing the 65% completion mark and the An Khe base was beginning to take a new look. Supplies were more plentiful as were cement mixers and other type construction vehicles. The new emphasis at base camp on building construction did hinder the operational readiness in the forward area since all construction was limited to the self help program.
Another major project was the Golf Course revetment program with a completion goal set for 33 revetments to be completed by the end of July. The battalion had extreme difficulty meeting this deadline, but as in the past, all requirements were fulfilled and another mission accomplished. Officers and enlisted men worked as laborers on these projects. Any individual that had previous building experience was accepted as the Project Director, and the rest of the personnel pitched in with a tremendous spirit to make the base camp a better place to live.
The 227th Aviation Battalion continued to support brigade elements of the First Calvary Division. The normal mission was to support brigade elements of the specific brigade for a particular operation. On initial assaults of the brigade elements into an AO (area of operation), as many as sixty (60) lift helicopters (UH-1D's) might be employed. The 229TH Aviation Battalion, our sister unit, would provide support to the 227th Aviation Battalion, on these initial moves, with aircraft and crews as required.d.d..
During January, the 227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) participated in Operation Thayer II. The 227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) was placed in direct support of the 2nd Brigade throughout this operation. Company A, was committed on the base defense mission at An Khe until 27 January, and assigned a new mission at Phan Thiet. Company A, 227th Aviation Battalion was displaced to Phan Thiet to provide sixteen (16) UH-1D's. Four UH-1B's with crews from Company D, 227th Aviation Battalion, was attached to Company A to provide gunship support. The 2nd Brigade conducted intensive search and destroy operations throughout the Pershing AO..
On 2 January, The First Battalion, 5th Cavalry, conducted combat assaults into the hill mass approximately 35 Kilometers north west of LZ Uplift. This operation (Hot Snap) was supported by 24 UH-1D's from the 227th. The assault was delayed until 1000 hours due to marginal weather conditions..
On 8 January, the 227th supported an ARVN Task Force on air assaults into two LZ's along the Song Kim River 18 Kilometers north east of LZ uplift. The 229TH provided 6 UH-1D's and 2 UH-1B's.
On 11 January, Companies B and C, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, were supported with 20 UH-1D's and 4 UH-1B's on air assaults into two LZ's, (BR625632 and BR687822). The 227th had mission responsibility and provided 8 UH-1D's and 4 UH-1B's. The 229th provided 4 UH-1D's and the 119th Aviation Company provided 8 UH-1D's. The mission was delayed due to poor weather conditions.
On 16 January, The 227th supported the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, with 24 UH-1D's and 4 UH-1B's into four LZ's, 22 kilometers west of LZ English. (LZ's Nina, Alma, Irma, and Sandra).
On 18 January, 227th assaulted the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, and CIDG elements into eight LZ's, 8 kilometers NNE of English. The LZ's were not named. The operation was supported with 18 UH-1D's and 6 UH-1B's. The initial assaults consisted of three simultaneous landings of 6 UH-1D's and 2 UH-1B's. Several aircraft were hit by hostile ground fire although there were no casualties or serious aircraft damage. The 229TH provided 8 UH-1D's and 2 UH-1B's for this operation. The same ground elements were extracted and air assaulted into 6 LZ's, 8 kilometers NE of English two days later. The 227th provided 12 UH-1D's and 2 UH-1B's for this move.
On 21 January, a tactical emergency was declared by the 2nd Brigade. ALL available UH-1D's and UH-1B's were scrambled to LZ Uplift including those aircraft on logistical missions and maintenance stand down. Elements of the 2nd Battalion, 12TH Cavalry and 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry were extracted from LZ's throughout the AO and transported to LZ English. These Elements in addition to CIDG forces were air assaulted into the mountain range NW of LZ English. The 2nd Brigade again declared a Tactical emergency on 27 January 1967. 24 UH-1D's and 4 UH-1B's were scrambled from LZ Dog. Reinforcing troops (US and ARVN) were air lifted into an LZ in the vicinity of LZ Trout. On the initial lift, 3 UH-1D's were hit by automatic weapons fire in the LZ. Five crew members were wounded although not seriously. Two UH-1D's were flown back to LZ Dog, and one landed on the beach. All three aircraft required minor repairs. Due to the intelligence report, the 227th supported the 2nd Brigade on two Battalion moves into the mountain range and foot hills east of LZ Uplift. No contact was encountered and Thayer II was about to end. Thayer II officially terminated on 12 February 1967...
Assaults were made to the high ground to support a ground tactical plan of sweeping down to the valleys. Very little hostile ground fire was encountered with the helicopter assaults to the hill top but a slight increase in accidents occurred due to the pinnacle landings which required a great amount of pilot skill to overcome turbulence and density altitude problems. The 227th Battalion continued supporting "Operation Pershing" with various missions ranging from the RRF to the Division Spray..
(Because of injury to "D" Pilots I was transferred from "C" Company to "D" Company "Guns" at LZ Dog) Grasshopper, (A word dreaded by pilots but a relief to the ground unit perimeter) became a nightly affair, varying from LZ Crystal to Pony, but when both places were mortared by the VC, the ships were Grasshoppered to Qui Nhon and An Khe. (Grasshopper of course, is the moving of ships at night to a secure area) Many nights were spent by the pilots and crew under a mosquito net tied to the tail boom of the UH1-D. February ended with Operation Pershing still in effect.
March started off with a battalion size combat assault of three companies, using 11 UH1-D's from the 227th and 11 UH1-D's from the 229TH. The 2/5th was combat assaulted into "VC Valley", 3 K's SE of LZ Dog. Only sporadic contact was made and all LZ's were green. D Company was credited with 1 KIA while supporting the ARVNS. A PSY OPS Program was increased in the Bong Son Plain. Normal CA's, extractions and general support missions continued throughout the month. The Flying Hour Program was continually being overflown due to the movement and requirements in the Bong Son AO.
PHY OPS notices and leaflets telling all civilians to get out of the An Loa Valley was in progress. The An Loa Valley, the real stronghold of the NVA in the Bong Son AO was about to become a free fire area. The 227th provided support to the 229TH in their support to the last and 3rd Brigades. The An Loa proved to be a formidable stronghold to the helicopters as well as the infantry. Numerous night emergency resupplies were made, as well as many flare missions to support our infantry in taking the night away from "Charlie". The Battalion became split in three locations, Company "A" was at Phan Thiet, Company "B" was at LZ Dog, and Company "C" was moved to LZ Hammonds. The Gun Company (D) remained at Dog, but provided one platoon of four Acorns to Phan Thiet..
"C" Company was to set up at LZ Hammonds with elements of the 5th Transportation Battalion to become eventually a secure maintenance area. Plans changed and after a short month "C" Company moved back to LZ Dog. "Beach Parties" became more of a reality, almost twice a week. In other words, the bulk of the mission ready aircraft would fly to the beaches along the coast near the Crescent Area and Lagger, the infantry would fly with us to provide perimeter defense. At daybreak the aircraft would crank and return to the mission of the day. The weather was beginning to get hotter and the density attitude higher, much emphasis was placed on reduced loads and more critical attention of the aircraft commanders and pilots. The 3rd Brigade of the 5th Infantry remained at LZ Uplift, and at times the 1st Cav Air mobility was called upon to assist the "Tropical Lightning" Brigade.
The 227th received an order to move further north to Duc Pho to provide logistical support and RRF to the 3/25th for 2.5 weeks. A jump CP was set up with the Brigade and the Hueys would fly from the Bong Son Plains to the Little Mountains of Duc Pho. The Marines were moving out of the area, and the Army was taking over an AO further to the north. After 2.5 weeks, the 161st AVN CO assumed the support of the 3/25th and the 227th aircraft returned to support the 1st CAV. Night Hunter Missions were increased in the Pershing AO in an attempt to stop the movement of supplies and equipment at night. Throughout the month of May, numerous company size moves were conducted in support of the 2nd Brigade, utilizing from 6 to 10 UH1-D aircraft. May ended with 11 UH1-D and 3 UH1-B in Phan Thiet. The remainder of mission ready ships were committed to the 1st Cav in support of Operation Pershing.
LTC George C. Horton took command of the Battalion during June replacing LTC James F. Hamlet.
20 UH1-D's from the 227th and 40 UH1-D's from the 229TH moved 60 sorties of B, C, and D companies, 2/2/12th to the mountain area northwest of the An Loa Valley. The assault was completed without incident, with three batteries firing on the LZ, Go Go and ARA, as well as organic gunships and door gunners suppressing. The assault was characterized by light enemy contact and heavy aircraft commitments for logistics and resupply.
(Because of the night assault I was in the air when the ammo dump exploded. We were sent to LZ Hammond for the night. Returning to Dog after the dump finished cooking off) On 6 June, a night assault was planned in the Crescent area west of highway #1. The lift was accomplished utilizing 18 UH1-D's from the Battalion. During the conduct of the lift, the English Pol and Ammo Dump exploded. The 15th Medical Facility was completely destroyed which resulted in the 227th treating and evacuating 37 casualties. Numerous aircraft parked on the ground at LZ Dog suffered both shrapnel and concussion damage. Numerous assaults were conducted throughout the month of June, utilizing 6-12 UH1-D's.
On 24 June, the 227th AHB (-) was selected to move one company (B)
to Kontum and the other company (C) to An Khe. B Company with a platoon
of Guns were in support of the 3rd Brigade operating in a new area
known as the Greely AO. The Battalion and C Company moved to An Khe to
assume the base defense mission.
(My platoon, 3rd, went to An Khe
with "C" Company)
The last week in July, the battalion received orders to move back to LZ Dog and support the Bong Son AO. B Company was also called back to support Operation Pershing in the Bong Son AO. HQ, B and D Companies closed into LZ Dog on 25 July. C Company closed into LZ Uplift the day prior. (I was with "C" Company at Uplift) The AO was hot but Charlie had moved back into the area while the helicopters had been gone. Immediately, the lift ships started moving infantry troops into position within the AO. Numerous 6+2 combat assaults moved the troops into position to find the enemy. The last week in July, the Battalion started receiving the new H Model Helicopters and plans indicated that by October the changeover would be complete. Like any other new equipment, the H Model had it's initiation pains with numerous maintenance problems.
The 227th AVN BN supported the 229TH AVN BN on 9 August by lifting the 1/8th Cavalry into the mountainous hills around the Song Re Valley. The lift was composed of four flights of 6 UH1-Ds, Yellow, White, Green, and Orange. The Orange Flight was the 227th position. The lift was without incident until the 3rd of 4 companies was lifted in, and at that time the slicks began receiving 12.7 inch gun fire while going into a Four Ship LZ (LZ PAT). ARA and the gun ships immediately took the position under fire. One gun ship was shot down and 2 observation ships were shot up beyond repair. One ship from the 227th received 2 bullet holes in the tail boom. The lift was held up on the last company until artillery and other fires could suppress the 12.7 positions. The lift was delayed 5 hours at BATO, a Special Forces camp, until approximately 1500 hours. The last company was put in without further shooting.
The Snatch Mission was more aggressively used during the month of August. That is, 4 to 6 helicopters will converge on a group of people waiting in the rice paddies, many VC were captured using this method. Normal resupply and company size assaults in the Bong Son Plain occurred with no significant action. C Company located at LZ Uplift was mortared with approximately 50 rounds on the night of 26th August. (My first real close mortar attack if you consider one landing about 15 feet from you close) No personnel were injured but 10 UH1-Ds were damaged and 2 completely destroyed. This did not hamper operations because C Company was scheduled to pick up 8 new H Models UH-1's on the 28th. August ended with the Battalion supporting Operation Pershing on the Bong Son Plain and one company supporting Operation Byrd at Phan Thiet. Grasshopper was again implemented with the aircraft going to Qui Nhon and An Khe to lagger overnight. The H Model inventory was increasing with B Company fully equipped, and C Company had started receiving theirs.
One of the largest assaults to take place in the Bong Son Plains
happened on 6 September. Intelligence indicated that the regimental
headquarters and all attached units were holed up in the Cay Giep
Mountains north of the Crescent area. After 2 B-52 "ARC LITES", the
mountains were to be assaulted simultaneously on all sides and the
infantry would exploit the area and completely search the mountains for
the enemy. The 48+8 Assault went off excellently and was a real show of
airmobility. Five different Battalions were simultaneously landing
around the objective. During the month of September, the units of the
Battalion had changed over to the "H" models. The long process of
turning in all our "D" models was in progress..
On 27 September the 227th AVN BN received word that they would be moving up to the Wallowa AO, NW of Tam Ky. the 3rd Brigade was taking over the Marine AO for the second time and the 227th would provide aviation support.
The state of the Battalion during October was as follows:
The 227th Aviation Battalion (AH) (-) continued to support the 2nd
BDE in the Pershing AO, from 1 AUG 67 - 31 OCT 67, "A" Company (-),
227th (AHB) continued to support Operation Byrd at Phan Thiet, from 1
Aug 67 to 31 Oct 67. On 2 Oct 67, "C" Company (+) and BN HQS (-) 227th
AHB) moved to the Wallowa AO, Quang Tin Province, to support the 3rd
Brigade, 1st Air Cav Div. "B" Company (-) and the remainder of BN HQ
remained at LZ Dog to continue support to the 2nd Brigade. This left
the 227th in a posture that is well becoming its trademark in that it
is split into three separate AO's. "D" Company (-) on 10 Oct 67 moved
the remainder of their company to the Wallowa AO to join the BN (-) in
support of the 3rd Brigade. One company at Phan Thiet, one company at
LZ Dog, and the remainder of the BN at LZ Gude Island. (I was with "C" company on Gude
On 1 October the 227th moved an advance party to Gude Island just
across the channel from the big complex of Chu Lai. This advance party
was led by the executive officer, LTC Arthur J. Leary, Jr. All vehicles
and supplies have to come in by the ferry, on Navy Mike 8 and Mike 6
boats. The Battalion had to break in a completely new area. Nothing but
pine trees and sand on the island. Quickly, the Battalion began to set
up POL, Aircraft parking areas and company areas. An attached engineer
company opened the area and an infantry company provided the security
and slowly set up a perimeter. Peneprime was slowly obtained and sand
was too much to cope with. Aircraft were going down for F.O.L. and sand
damage to the engine. (On
16 October I engaged in single gun ship coverage for a flight of slicks
led by Herbert Lawton. He wrote up the action and I received the
Silver Star) Lawton statement,
On 30 Oct 67 LZ Gude Island was mortared and sapper units overran
the flight line. This resulted in 5 aircraft destroyed and 8
extensively damaged. Ten Troopers were wounded, with one evacuated to
Japan. (My second close
mortar attack but this was worse because VC penetrated the peremiter
and were running around the flight line and tent area. My 4 gun
ships were located away from the slicks and were overlooked by the
sappers. As soon as it died down I took off and sprayed the area
with machine gun and rocket fire. Early the next morning I
spotted a boat leaving the island and fired a warning shot. They
did not stop so I stopped them.)
On 31 October, the Battalion started repairing the damaged helicopters with outstanding assistance furnished by the 15th TC BN. Movement of troops was curtailed some, but aviation support was still furnished the 3rd BDE. Also on 31 Oct, the decision was made to move the Battalion off the island to the Chu Lai Complex.
During the month of November, the 227th AVN BN, found itself in Marine barracks and using running water for the first time since the 1st Cavalry Division had moved to Vietnam. We were living in the old Marine Air Group 36 Area. The aircraft were parked on Hard asphalt and pierced steel planking. We had moved into the best living area since the hills of FT. Denning. But Charlie didn't let up and the heavy aircraft commitment continued; to help the 3rd Brigade complete its mission, to destroy the VC and the NVA infrastructure.
On the 13th of November the following took place: See my original notes on 13th of
November. I provided information from the "Gun"
perspective. Lt Lawton provided one from the "Slick"
perspective. Below is a composite of the two.) Gun perspective
Two gunships were on call at LZ Baldy for the 3rd Brigade Ready Reaction Force. The flight leader was on call at Chu Lai. The day seemed to be a slow one for a change. At approximately 1600 hours a call came in that 2 "B" Troop 1/9 Cav armed helicopters had been shot down about 6 miles Southeast of Que Son, RVN. Immediately the gun ships were scrambled and the flight leader notified. As soon as the flight leader was airborne, he assembled his flight and gave instructions that they were going to put in a security force around the aircraft and of course, evacuate the crew. Everyone was cautioned that the area was extremely "hot". Enemy troops had been firing on the downed crews from the tree lines surrounding both ships. The flight leader took his flight of 7 slicks to the West of LZ Ross to pick up "A" Company 1/35, of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, which was attached to the 1st CAV. This would be the securing force for both downed aircraft.ft.
As the 7 lift helicopters landed with the securing troops near the 1st downed aircraft, the enemy opened up with small arms and automatic weapons fire. The gun ship of "D" Company, 227th (me and WO Sayers) immediately placed fires upon the enemy positions. All slicks miraculously got out of the LZ without a hit, due to the excellent gun coverage of Delta Company. The flight returned and picked up the remaining portion of "A" Company and put them in the same LZ. Again heavy enemy fire was received hitting one of the slicks, rendering it not flyable as well as putting two rounds in one of the gun ships. The lift was now 6 slicks and the gun ships were both still flyable. The flight leader took his 6 ships to pick up "B" Company of the same infantry battalion to secure the 2nd downed aircraft. The second LZ was expected to be much more hot than the first, as there was a village on the west side of the LZ that was known to contain several automatic weapons positions. As the flight reached about 400 meters from the LZ, the gun ships made their gun run quite successfully and the lift helicopters mad it into the LZ without receiving a hit. As the gun ships made a 2nd pass, the enemy opened up with a heavy volume of fire hitting 3 of the lift choppers. One slick had to make a force landing near the LZ. As the gun ship made a pass to protect the slick, the gun ship received several .50 caliber hits forcing him to land. (This was me. Lt Larry Reed came around and picked me up. I stayed at LZ Ross until it was over. They brought me another helicopter and I continued the flight but by then it was almost over. I won the Distinguished Flying Cross for this action. Not bad for getting shot down.) DFC Citation The other gunship continued placing fire on the enemy while two of the empty lift ships came around and picked up the crews of the 2 new downed aircraft. No one was injured by enemy fire and both emergency landings were completed successfully. The flight leader then departed to reorganize and refuel. During this time 3 more slicks were sent to the flight leader making a total of 8 lift ships. Two additional gun ships were sent up to assist.The 2 new aircraft had to be secured and time was becoming a factor since it was getting dark and the weather was deteriorating rapidly. The flight leader lead his flight of 8 to the 1st downed aircraft (Slick) was hit cutting the flight down to seven. The flight returned to make the 2nd pickup and due to excellent coverage of the gun ships, no slicks were hit. It was now very dark and the flight was running in and out of rain showers, but one helicopter still had to be secured. The flight of 7 proceeded to pick up the necessary troops for this insertion. Enroute to the LZ the flight ran into extremely bad weather forcing them to fly low level over areas that they well knew to be hostile. Due to the poor visibility, the flight missed the LZ on the lst pass. As they were turning around to come in again, one of the lift helicopters received hits and went down. As the guns suppressed for the damaged aircraft, the slick aircraft commander made a call that he had sufficient power to fly the ship back to a secure area (LZ Baldy). the flight made another 180 degree turn and continued on to their original LZ. The suppressive fires this time had to be closely monitored due to the close proximity of friendly troops. The flight deposited the troops and departed. On departure they encountered fire and the gun ships received numerous hits and a slick was was hit but all were still flyable. The flight was now composed of 6 slicks. All 4 downed aircraft had securing forces around them, but there was still and additional 6 sorties of "B" Company 1/35 to be put into the 2nd LZ where the "B" troop l/9 gun ship was located. As the flight went into the LZ, the flight leader again briefed the flight to watch the suppressive fires due to the location of friendly troops.
As the flight approached the LZ the lift ships and gun ships were hit with a tremendous volume of automatic weapons fire. the gun ships laced fires on the positions, trying to protect the slicks but 3 more of the lift ships were hit and one gun ship was hit badly and forced to land. (The 2nd D company gun ship to go down was flown by WO Bruner and WO Bradley) Immediately the flight leader dispatched a slick to pick up the downed crew of the gun ship. The crew was picked up and all ships departed the area. By this time so many of the helicopters were damaged it was impossible to secure the downed gun ship. It was destroyed during the night by enemy troops using satchel charges. (WO Bradley's aircraft) The results of the nights action were staggering, there were 5 helicopters shot down. There were a total of 13 lift helicopters used, one was shot down and 10 others received a varying number of hits. Several were so badly damaged they could not be flown again until extensive repairs were made. Of the 5 aircraft shot down, all 20 crew members were rescued. The flight leader, LT. James Lawton, was presented the Silver Star for his action by the 1st Cavalry Division's Commanding General, MG John. J. Tolson. This action was the highlight of the professional attitude the 227th maintained throughout the year...
November ended with over 1100 NVA or VC killed by body count. The Battalion accomplished 5 battalion sized combat assaults, 77 company size assaults and 19 platoon size assaults for the 3rd Brigade in 2 short months. Not all action was in the Wallowa AO. A Company at Phan Thiet was conduction operations in the Byrd AO on 22 November 67 and when they were on short final to an LZ, the enemy placed heavy automatic fire on the flight. The results were again staggering with 7 lift ships hit and 2 area aircraft hit and destroyed. Only 2 minor injuries were received during this action. After all action was terminated and the area secured, it was determined that the LZ was in the middle of 2 VC Companies..
The 227th remained at the same position as during the previous 2 months, that is, one company at Phan Thiet (A), one company at LZ Dog in Bong Son ((B)-), and 2 companies and Battalion Headquarters at Chu Lai (C,D).
LTC George C. Horton relinquished command of the best aviation battalion in Vietnam to LTC. W.F. Dixon. The Battalion continued the excellent support in 3 of the 4 corps areas in South Vietnam. December proved to be a normal month to the 227th. Various changes of personnel took place within the Battalion. Enemy action was on the increase in all 3 AO's. In Operation Byrd, on 9 Dec "A" Company had 2 lift helicopters shot up while on short final to the LZ. The results were 7 crew members wounded, 1 seriously and 6 were medivaced. The 2 aircraft were turned in for extensive repair. In the Pershing AO, B Company rendered support to the 1st Brigade which came in heavy contact with 2 NVA Battalions just Northeast of LZ English. The body count for that action so far is over 400 NVA killed in action. No aircraft damage has been reported.
1967 Historical Data for the 227th Aviation Battalion
|January-June||LTC James F. Hamlet|
|June-December||LTC George C. Horton|
|December-Present||LTC W. F. Dixon|
|January-July||Capt. Edward D. Hart|
|July-September||Capt. Charles P. Harris|
|September-December||Capt. Jack R. Watkins|
|January- March||MAJ Samuel J. Hubbard|
|March-June||MAJ George Giles|
|June-December||MAJ Steve Farrier Jr.|
|January-June||MAJ Francis J. Toner|
|June-September||MAJ Edward A. Colburn|
|September-December||MAJ James F. Bradel|
|January||MAJ Milton C. Sheridan|
|January-April||MAJ Lester C. Caudle|
|April-July||MAJ Marrion H. Collins|
|July-September||MAJ Ansen D. Bell|
|September-December||MAJ William M Hayes|
|January-March||MAJ Robert M. Gibbs|
|March-July||MAJ Richard R. White|
|July-December||MAJ Walter F. D. Allan|
AWARDS and DECORATIONS
|Silver Star (Heroism)
Silver Stars went to Lt Lawton "C" Company, me "D" Company and don't know the other one.
|Distinguished Flying Cross||78|
|Soldiers Medal (Heroism)||8|
|Bronze Star W/"V" (Heroism)||8|
|Army Commendation W/"V"(Heroism)||126|
|Bronze Star (S&A)||99|
|Army Commendation (S&A)||141|
|Air Medal (Combat Operations)||3465|